A decade ago I never really stopped to question the global impact of my choices in my lifestyle. I held firmly my belief set and values of respect, compassion, love, integrity, truth and a burning desire to help others in my life journey, but I had never really stopped to question deeper the 'behind the scenes' of everything in my life. I did not hear about it or see it in the mainstream media so I remained quite oblivious to the real, wider and deeper impact of my choices on the earth and humanity. I had never asked... What was I actually wearing? Where did it come from? What was in it? Who made it? What was the story behind it? How many hands were involved in the creation of it? What was happening to the soils? The water? The air? The animals? The ecosystems?
Consumerism, as it is defined, is the human desire to own and acquire products, goods and services in excess of one's basic needs with basic needs referring to adequate food, water, clothing and shelter. It drives economic prosperity for many regions around the world and is therefore seen as a necessary aspect of human evolution; but at what cost?
Behind the scenes of the handbag, the jewellery, the food, the fashion, is a cycle of excess production, processing, plundering and subsequent destruction of the earth's natural resources; the creation of factories whose manufacturing and operation creates inhumane working conditions, human and animal abuse & toxic byproducts; and the use of commodities themselves that create hazardous pollutants and waste. We are now witnessing mass deforestation and misuse of land, toxic levels of pollution, contaminated water sources, intensive and inhumane livestock breeding, mass animal slaughter, the export and dumping of industrial and electrical waste into developing countries, child and bonded labour, human rights abuses, inhumane working conditions all to fuel the fire of global and mass consumption.
Vandana Shiva : “It's not an investment if its destroying the planet.”
But seeing first hand the disastrous health consequences of the textile industry, questioning the norm and challenging the status quo changed my life forever. On a global perspective in all industries there are large undercurrents that are begging for us to stop and question things. Everything begins with awareness. Knowing and seeing what is going on plants a seed in our consciousness and stirs the invisible thread that unites us together.
I am eternally grateful for incredible role models, eco warriors, humanitarians and change makers that spread light on these issues and below are just some powerful yet haunting images of three incredible individuals who fight relentlessly to highlight significant causes—such as the elimination of human slavery, wildlife crimes, the unification of humanity, environmental issues - and create images that resonate with the heart, motivate us to act and inspire change.
Sean Gallagher is a British photographer and filmmaker whose work focuses on highlighting environmental issues and crises globally.
Three boys stand near E-Waste discarded at the side of a small pond in the village of Sangrampur near Kolkata. As electronic waste is broken down, harmful elements such as mercury, lead and arsenic leach into the soil and water resulting in the long-term poisoning of local resources.
A child worker pulls discarded leather trimmings discarded from local tanneries. The waste is laced with toxic chemicals produced in the tanning process and discharged onto local farmland.
Lisa Kristine is a San Francisco based photographer who encourages a dialogue about the beauty, diversity and hardship of our inter-locking world. Lisa Kristine aims to enhance her viewer’s awareness and engage them in a visual journey that is also a questioning of our existence.
The silk dyers are enslaved in a village where each family is involved in a different aspect of making silk.
These boys and men are all enslaved in illegal gold mining in Ghana. Most come from northern Ghana hoping to strike it rich working at legal mines. When they can’t get a job, they borrow money at usurious interest rates or join teams of slaves known as gangs. The gangs work in areas abandoned by big companies. They can only sell their gold to the moneylender at a price he sets. They are trapped by illegal, fictitious debt, and are often hunted by local police and private security guards for trespassing. Many of them talk about wanting to escape. Some of them believe they will become rich if they work just a little longer and harder.
Paul Hilton is a Hong Kong-based photojournalist and wildlife trade consultant who focuses on global environmental and conservation issues and endeavors to bring about urgent change in the way we treat our surroundings.
The Sumatran orang-utan is losing habitat fast. Pristine forest in Indonesia is being burned, drained and cleared for palm-oil plantations at a shocking pace.
A sea of death - a sea of shark fins covers the roof of a building in Hong Kong, representing the slaughter of an estimated 30,000 sharks.
What can we do about It?
Collectively, we need to look at our choices, redefine what we thought we knew and work towards expanding our awareness through rigorous inquiry towards owning products that have transparency, the lowest environmental impact and a deep sense of compassion and social justice.
" Imagine a world where purchasing power was centered firmly around notions of environmental protection, human rights, fair trade and community development. A world where brands competed with each other to attract the attention of consumers based on social and ethical platforms, and the top performing and most respected brands were built on the foundations of sustainability, respect and social betterment " ~ Luc Berlin Founder Miigle Inc
If we stop to think about our giant footprint on the Earth, the notion and very essence of humanity becomes an important part of our efforts to create a better tomorrow. We tend to live beyond the world’s ecological means but we can all make positive educated choices that can help protect and rekindle a sense of belonging, a sense of unity, a sense of respect, a sense of responsibility. With knowledge and the power to change, we can actually co-exist, adapt, cherish, nurture, respect and love the Earth in its entirety.
At Bhumi we are very passionate about education and awareness of what is going on around the world that affects the Earth and Her People. We have deep gratitude for all the champions who put their life and soul into fighting for our planet. We strongly believe that knowledge brings power. Power brings choice. Choice brings change. Change for the better – for the earth and for humanity.
About the Author: Vinita is the Founder of Bhumi Organic Cotton and passionate about Earth Life Balance.